John Morris Russell, conductor, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
Consistently winning international praise for his extraordinary music making and visionary leadership, John Morris Russell began his tenure as Conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra in September, 2011. Maestro Russell “has shown a new generation, the strength and versatility of symphonic pops” raves the Cincinnati Enquirer, as he continues to build upon the legacy of Pops founder and conductor Erich Kunzel.
Mr. Russell has worked with many of North America’s most distinguished ensembles including the orchestras of Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Toronto, Vancouver as well as Miami’s New World Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and The Cleveland Orchestra. In 1999 he replaced an ailing Maestro Kunzel at the famed Musikverein in Vienna, in a concert featuring the Harlem Boychoir, the Vienna Choir Boys and the actor Gregory Peck. The performance was recorded on CD, DVD, and continues to be televised throughout Europe, Japan and in the USA on PBS.
Widely considered one of North America’s leaders in orchestral educational programming, Maestro Russell champions music making of all kinds in schools and communities throughout the USA and Canada. For 12 years he conducted “LinkUP!” concerts at Carnegie Hall, the oldest and most celebrated series of its kind, created by Walter Damrosch in 1891 and made famous by Leonard Bernstein. As Associate Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras (1995-2006), he created the “Classical Roots” series, celebrating the music of African-American composers, as well as the “Sound Discoveries” series which remains a leading model for educational concerts across the continent.
John Morris Russell also serves as Music Director of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, and is Conductor Laureate of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in Ontario, Canada, where he was Music Director between 2001 and 2012.
Mr. Russell studied at the University of Southern California, Williams College, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Aspen Music Festival, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, and the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors in Hancock, Maine. Maestro Russell received an Honorary Doctorate from The University of Windsor in 2011.